Darling dazzles in Eagles win
Enigmatic forward Jack Darling produced another purple patch, kicking five goals in a quarter against Adelaide to help set up his side's 30 point win at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
Having gone kick-less in the opening 38 minutes of the contest Darling sprung to life in the second stanza, kicking five majors in a dominant performance from the 2019 All-Australian, the Eagles winning their third straight match to cement their spot in the top eight with the 16.10 (106) to 11.10 (76) triumph.
It was a patchy performance from the home side, who led at every change but failed to put last season's wooden spoon side away, Adelaide far from disgraced with a gutsy performance without spearhead Taylor Walker who was rested for the trip West.
West Coast edged ahead at quarter time through goals to Oscar Allen and Josh Kennedy, but Adelaide were proving hard to crack early with the Crows registering goals through Riley Thilthorpe and high flying Shane McAdam, the latter after a mark of the year contender over Tom Barrass.
The Crows led by a goal at the ten minutes mark of the second term before Darling intervened, breaking free of Tom Doedee to break the game open.
His first three majors came from strong marks before almost making a meal of the fourth, marking a Jake Waterman kick on the edge of the goal square before dribbling the ball through the legs of Crows defender Brodie Smith, the major confirmed after a score review.
It was five for the term when Darling recovered from a fumbled mark to slot truly on the run from 45 metres out, the Eagles 29 points up at the break thanks to the premiership forward's purple patch.
Adelaide came out with renewed vigour after half time to close the gap to 17 points, but a brace of goals to Jake Waterman either side of a Jamie Cripps major had the Eagles in control at the final break, leading by 35 points.
The percentage booster that many expected didn't arrive in the last term as the Crows again dug their heels in against their highly fancied opponents, winning the term as West Coast had to settle for a 30 point win.
Josh Kennedy and Oscar Allen each kicked 3 goals to go with Darling's five, the star trio sharing 11 of their team's 16 goals.
Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass both made impressive returns from adductor and shoulder injuries respectively as they shared 17 marks between them, Liam Ryan and Shannon Hurn likely to strengthen the Eagles team for their round 10 clash with Greater Western Sydney.
Tim Kelly had 31 disposals and 7 clearances to be the best midfielder on the ground, Andrew Gaff and Alex Witherden each with 30 to have an impact on the match while ruckman Nic Naitanui (31 hitouts and 4 clearances) and forward Jamie Cripps (26 touches and a goal) also featured in the Eagles best.
Rory Lair had 35 disposals and 10 clearances for the Crows, Ben Keays also working hard for 32 touches and McAdam kicking 3.2 on his recall to the side.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson said his team still had work to do to get back to their best football, despite now sitting at 6-3.
"“Obviously after Geelong, we’ve been more consistent. Our best was great today but our worst wasn’t good." he said.
The Eagles head to Sydney to face the Giants next Sunday, while Adelaide host ladder leaders Melbourne Saturday evening at the Adelaide Oval.
IMAGE: Fox Sports.